August 29, 2009

The Community Carbon Project: Upcycling our Glass Waste.

*Upcycling: the act of transforming a recyclable material into a reusable item and the most efficient form of recycling

The Community Carbon Project [CCP] is all about “upcycling” . If upcycling is, as Wikipedia simply states,

“a reinvestment in the environment,”

Boulder, Colorado is growing richer by the day, thanks to CCP’s Ryan Rosburg and Angelo Ambrosia.

CCP is a Boulder-based upcycling art program that reclaims discarded glass in the Denver and Boulder areas for reuse — and they’re serious about expansion on a national level. (They’ve even trademarked the phrase “upcycle art.”)

Community Carbon Project is made up of Ryan and Angelo— two talented glassblowing artists — and about a dozen other cohorts. Ryan’s been blowing glass since he was 15 (self-taught, a rarity in the industry) and Angelo runs a successful glass studio in Longmont.

Through their efforts, they’ve been able to reintroduce used glass to consumers as useful products such as drinking glasses, vases, and candleholders, plus building materials like backsplash tiles, custom countertops and full bars.


Recently, I met with CCP. Ryan shared some thoughts on the Project:

In uncertain times, social enterprise startups like CCP offer resource preservation solutions that are actually effective. We are optimistic that our products will not only advance our social mission by providing responsible goods, but will also directly tie the individual to a very productive recycling program. When people recycle, their involvement usually ends at the recycling bin. CCP products allow consumers to see how recycling becomes fruitful via creative upcycling.

Glass is reclaimed from partner establishments weekly, then sorted and cleaned. During the glassblowing process, the used glass is heated and transformed into functional objects in the product line. CCP has already saved tens of thousands of pounds of glass to date with the help of “ultrasupportive” sponsors like Tahona Tequila Bistro and Sushi Tora, and Denver establishments Pat’s Cheesesteaks and The Corner Office Restaurant and Martini Bar. The goal is to get the majority of Boulder establishments to participate, and to seek out strategic partnerships (think Eco-Cycle) to assist in reducing glass waste.

CCP’s mission is simple: to actively reduce our carbon footprint while inspiring others to launch and invest in creative solutions for the global waste problem. Our unique form of upcycling connects people with the actual process as well as the end result of creative reuse, and we have enjoyed overwhelming community support so far.

Community Carbon Project is most definitely acting locally, as well as thinking globally. The crew has big plans to carry the concept far, including future facilities built upon landfills (to contain and harness the methane gas) and large-scale collaboration with glass studios.

We took our basic idea, added a little creativity and worked hard to turn our dreams into reality. Our goal was to simply blow recycled glass — and in the process of making gobs of glass into functional objects, our larger purpose became much more vivid. As our concept grew, we realized it was the simple lead -by-example theory that would carry our message far. Ultimately, we’d love to see our hard work and creativity inspire people of all generations to participate in reducing landfill waste through reuse and other viable solutions.

Community Carbon Project collaborates with other mindful businesses for community events, like First Fridays at The Art District on Santa Fe and Om Time’s Detox-Retox sessions. CCP also participates in regular local events (you may have seen them at the Farmers Market), and they’re always seeking new ways to link up with green-focused groups to initiate change and raise awareness.

If you haven’t done your good deed for the day, or you’re in the market for some funky glassware, support Community Carbon Project and save glass waste through the purchase of their products online. (CCP is eagerly anticipating their website redesign a la Cypher 13, a progressive and award-winning Boulder design studio.)

You can also get their products the old-fashioned way at Om Time (Boulder/Denver) or Willow-an artisan’s market (Littleton/Boulder). Oh yeah, and they donate a portion of product sales to local charitable organizations, so both CCP’s establishment partnerships and glass sales have a direct, positive effect on the community as well as the environment.

~ Lindsey Kesel

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